On the eve of the Economic Stimulus Plan being signed into law, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet spent time along the Western Slope, talking to residents about why he thinks it will push Colorado's economy forward and taking heat from some who disagree.
"Our economy is in this incredible downturn that's accelerating and if we don't do something, we're going to lose even more jobs," said U.S. Senator Michael Bennter, (D) Colorado.
That was the message Monday night as Colorado's Junior Senator made his case to Grand Valley residents for the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. During a town hall meeting, he said he believes the bill will create or protect about 59,000 jobs across Colorado, but there is still much work to be done if the economy is going to get better.
"It doesn't address our housing crisis, it doesn't address our banking crisis," said Bennet. "And these are huge challenges that are going to require all of us to work together to solve."
But some in the crowd feld the stimulus plan lacked in a lot more areas than those. During a Q&A session, several residents expressed their frustrations with plan, saying there was too much pork, too much spending, too much government growth, and not enough economic stimulation.
"This was an opportunity for us to see how he responds to questions, to see how he responds to a crowd generally not in support of his candidacy," said Duke Cox, who attended the meeting.
Bennet says he doesn't expect everyone to agree with his decisions.
"From Cortez to Grand Junction, there's been a huge diversity of opinion about this stimulus package," said Bennet.
He says he can appreciate their frustrations.
"It's not a perfect bill," said Bennet. "Nobody would have written it if they were sitting by themselves in a room."
But he says at the end of the day, he feels it's necessary to get the economy back on the right track. While not all in the crowd agreed with them, they say they can respect the fact that he made it a point to meet with Western Slope residents.
"One of the things that would be a failing would be if he jumps to conclusions and does not take the time to listen to both sides of an argument," said Cox.
They say they hope this isn't the last they've seen of him.
"I think he'll be a fairly regular visitor to the Western Slope," said Cox.
Bennet says he'd like to see more done to shore up bad mortgages as Congress moves forward this week with deciding how to spend more of the financial bailout funds. He will be in Denver Tuesday for the signing of the stimulus plan before returning to Washington.
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